6 Tips To Help You Avoid Having One Of The 650,000 Laptops Stolen This Year and Software That Covers You If You Are!

We talk about security on Smallbiztechnology all the time: Securing your data, your identity, your networks and your devices. Smallbiztechnology recently had the opportunity to speak with Mark Grace, Vice President of Consumer Division, Absolute® Software, the makers of LoJack for Laptops (consumer) and Computrace (commercial) device security and recovery software. Mark shared with Ramon what makes the Absolute Software products unique and effective and why having security software, like theirs, is essential in this day and age.

Who Is Absolute Software

Absolute Software, based out of Vancouver Canada, specializes in technology and services for the management and security of mobile computers, netbooks, and smartphones and has been doing so for the last 20 years. 

The technology provided by Absolute Software is unique from any other device security / recovery in the market. Since 2005, their software has been built into the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) of every IBM laptop. Today, their software is built into every PC manufacturer on the market (Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc.), except for Sony and Apple.

Why is this so unique and important? Simply put, because the software is built into the BIOS, it becomes a persistent agent, which means that if a device that has employed this software is stolen and the thief attempts to remove data or reformat the hard drive, the software will ‘self-heal’ and reinstate itself. You simply cannot get rid of it. Because of this, you do not lose any functionality of the software and the recovery / data deletion process.

The Process of Recovery / Data Deletion

To date, Absolute Software has recovered 28,000 devices in 98 countries. Essentially, they are retrieving 3 out of 4 laptops that are stolen or lost. That’s a significant recovery rate and far exceeds any of their competitors. They are able to obtain such a large recovery rate due to three significant factors:

1. The fact that their software is built into the BIOS of so many devices.

2. The ease of their process.

3. The fact that they employ 50 – 60 ex-law enforcement members on their team that have built over 6000 relationships with judicial and law enforcement agencies across the globe.

We already spoke about the significance of the software being built into the BIOS. Lets talk about the simple process one goes through when they lose a device or discover it’s stolen. First, the device is tracked using one of three options: IP Address, WiFi or Triangulating 3G /4G access. The User then logs into the software interface and as soon as the device comes online, they can see the proximity of where their device is. Next, the user has the ability to take any of the following steps:

  • Enable data delete of all, or specific, files on the device
  • Freeze the device
  • Send a pop-up message that appears on the device noting who to contact to return the device (in the case of a lost device)
  • Choose recovery, which promps for the completion of a police report and the start of the recovery process.
If the device is reported stolen and the device goes into the recovery process, the recovery team  begins by telling the system to call the device every 15 minutes in order to track the device. They then download forensic tools into the machine that allow them to try to identify who’s using the device. For instance, if the thief, or someone who acquires the machine from the thief, uses the machine to log into Facebook or purchase something from Amazon, the forensic tools can use that information to identify the individual and they then hand that information over to the police so they can do a ‘door knock’ to attempt to retrieve the device.

 

The Staggering Statistics On Lost / Stolen Devices

Now, I know that devices get stolen or are lost everyday, but I had no idea of the numbers! For instance, Heathrow airport reports that an average 1000 laptops go missing at their facility every week. Yes, I just said every WEEK! In their largest reporting, they had a reported 12,000 devices in one month.

Additionally, the FBI reports that 650,000 laptops are stolen every year. That’s almost 1800 a day! Mark offers some tips that people should think about when traveling with their devices or using them in public spaces to stay secure:

  • When connecting to a business network, always use a VPN for a secure connection.
  • Never leave your laptop unattended when at a coffee shop or other public space – not even to just go to the bathroom!
  • Never put your devices in the seat pockets of an airplane or train – you may forget them!
  • When traveling, try using a non-traditional carrier for your laptop, such as a backpack, which draws less attention to thieves.
  • Never leave your device sitting in open site in a locked vehicle.  Either lock it in the trunk or hide out of sight.
  • Never leave your device sitting in the open in your hotel / motel room.

“I am always amazed at how many unattended laptops I see at a Starbucks or other coffee shop that I frequent”, stated Mark.  “It just blows my mind! So now every time I see an unattended laptop I drop a free trial card for LoJack onto the keyboard!”.

 

Products To Secure Your Devices

Absolute Software offers a few different products to secure devices. Their most popular, consumer based product, is LoJack for Laptops. You can sign up for a free 30 day trial of the product for your laptop. Beyond that, cost for the standard edition is $39.99 and for the premium edition, which includes a $1000 guarantee, it’s $59.99.

They also provide an app in the Google Play Store that can be added to android phones and tablets that allow you to track and wipe the devices, but does not include retrieval services. You can try the app free on a 60 day trial.

On the commercial side, Absolute Software offers Computrace. This service allows business IT administrators or Office Managers to manage all the assets of a company on one interface. At the touch of a button, the admin can perform any task needed to control the device, including wiping it’s data, freezing it or requesting retrieval.  The product acts as a solid asset management system for companies looking to inventory and control numerous devices. You can see all the features of this product here.

We’ve provided some simple tips to help protect you from being a victim of device theft and offered a solid solution to recovery and data protection if you do get hit, or just happen to lose your device. So, hopefully you won’t join the ranks of the 650,000 people each year that have to deal with this enormously time consuming tragedy – and if you do, hopefully you’ll be one of the 28,000 who uses an Absolute Software product and gets their device back!

 

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About Carolyn Crummey

Carolyn Crummey is a business and technology strategist and the owner of VirTasktic (www.virtasktic.com), an agency dedicated to providing high-level virtual services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. A lover of technology and small business, Carolyn has built a career on the intelligent use of technology to increase business efficiency and productivity, which ultimately leads to greater profitability. Carolyn works closely with her clients to understand their challenges and helps them integrate the best technology solutions into their businesses so they too can enjoy great successes. You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at @CarolynCrummey or @VirTasktic.